This is the time of year that coaches, athletic directors and the media begin looking at the numbers for the playoffs.
In the past, the only numbers that mattered were wins and losses, percentages and power ratings. But a couple of conversations I've been in this week brought a new number into play when it comes to the postseason: bank balance.
It started with a coach who knew his team wasn't a likely contender in one of the individual sports - that is, the ones where everybody just shows up at districts and makes a go of it - telling me that he may not bring his team at all.
But it wasn't the ability of the team that was fueling his speculation - it was, he said, because the school didn't want to invest the money to lease a bus and take the team to the district event, if the team wasn't likely to win, or at least qualify a few people through to states.
Another team in the region, which already has clinched a .500 record (and thus, theoretically at least, a playoff spot) may opt out for the same reason. That decision also will take into account the cost of the venture.
There are plenty of things wrong with the district playoff system in Pennsylvania, but this is a new twist.
You don't know how a team will do once it gets into the tournament. A team that had a bad season can suddenly come around and become a championship contender - it's a new season; everyone starts with a 0-0 record.
Teams with losing records at the end of the regular season - which I remain opposed to being allowed in the playoffs - can win championships. State championships - it's been done.
Teams do not need to win district titles to win state titles - in District 4, where East Juniata and Midd-West compete, at least two runners-up in the recent past have gone the distance.
When the money woes began in Juniata County, I predicted that the sports situation there was a harbinger, not an anomaly. It seems like the second shot has been fired across the bow.
Another money issue that school districts face will exacerbate as their facilities age.
Dietrick Field in Mifflintown and Lewistown's Mitchell field are adequate, but compared to state of the art stadiums at some school districts, are downright depreciate.
Husky fans will suffer the fate of hoping for a seat when the team travels to State College Friday, because the Little Lions' field sits on a sinkhole, which recently began to swallow the home side bleachers.
That school district must now decide whether to move ahead with plans to renovate the field, or replace it. Because the school district is so large, and is in an area where deep-pocket donors may be able to support most of the cost, a new stadium should be a realistic project.
Locally, we saw what happened when Juniata parents a few years ago tried to raise money to update Dicker - nothing. The only changes there were to the track facilities, and were paid for with the modern-day equivalent of breakfast cereal box tops.
It will take more than a decoder ring to fix the problems that poorer, rural districts will continue to experience.
Jeff Fishbein is sports editor of The Sentinel. Contact him at email@example.com.